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Friday, May 28, 2010

For Better Or For Worse

Happy birthday to Canadian cartoonist Lynn Johnston, creator of For Better Or For Worse.  Ms. Johnston began the strip in 1979 and it has grown to a distribution of over 2000 newspapers.

FBOFB is one of the few syndicated strips to have the characters age in 'real time.'  It has also embraced some controversies such as outing one character, the death of the family dog, etc.

The strip and its creator received some public flack when, in 2007, she announced her retirement, only to change her mind and rerun the strip with various changes and inserts embellishing the Patterson family.  A comprehensive synopsis of Ms Johnston's strip is posted here.  Click here for the official web page of the strip.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

What It Takes To Draw A Cartoon

I recently posted some cartoons on Face Book and someone asked me if I've ever submitted to the New Yorker.  I could come up with a million reasons why I haven't, but the truth is, the New Yorker is REALLY intimidating.  Personally, I consider New Yorker cartoonists the best of the best.

However, I confess, I was deeply flattered that someone asked.  I'm posting a video from You Tube with Bob Mankoff.  He's the cartoon editor for the New Yorker - and a wonderful cartoonist in his own right.  Mr. Mankoff drew one of my all time favorite cartoons.  It's included in the clip.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sack Time

I'd like to recognize the birthday of George Baker, creator of Sad Sack.  Baker's career began working in Disney studio before WWII.  A synopsis of Mr. Baker's accomplishments can be read here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Jump Start

I found this clip of Robb Armstrong giving a presentation to a school on Mike Lynch's cartoon blog.  I had the great fortune to see Robb talk at a cartooning conference in Columbus, Ohio in 1995.  He is a really nice guy with a very inspiring story.

Robb's cartoon strip is called Jump Start.  You can see samples here.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Kiss Annie Goodbye

Little Orphan Annie is going the way of the dodo.  Read the whole thing here:

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Toonful Tuesday: Interpol

I dug this song the first time I heard it.  I love the combination of angst and apathy. 

Monday, May 10, 2010

R.I.P. Frank Frazetta

Frank Frazetta, the master of illustrators has died.

His work was one of the major influences on me as a kid.  Frazetta worked in everything from cartoons strips (Lil' Abner) to Little Annie Fannie in Playboy.

His sword & sorcery  paintings redefined the genre, but no one (in my opinion) was ever able to catch the menace and power like Frazetta.

For a comprehensive look at his career, go to
Even ill health couldn't keep him from painting.  Sidelined by a series of strokes, Frazetta taught himself to paint with his left hand.  Rest in peace Mr. Frazetta.

Weekend Update

I want to recognize some birthdays that took place over the weekend.  They are noteworthy and - in all honesty - they give me something to talk about since my weekend was dull.

Saturday was shared a birthday for Jean Giraud (Moebius) and Bob Clampett.  Giraud, better known in the comics world as Moebius, turned 72.  Learn more about Mr. Giraud at  I've posted a sample of his beautiful work in case you're not familiar with him.  Click on it for a larger version.

Also born on May 8th is (or was) Bob Clampett, the man credited with putting the 'looney' in 'Looney Tunes.'  Although Clampett's contribution to Warner Brother's animation is undeniable, his peers found him difficult and egotistical.  He had a reputation for extreme self-promotion.  Here's a cartoon from 1945 directed by Clampett.  Look past the stereotyping and enjoy the beautiful elasticity of the characters and the perfect marriage of the music and the action. 

Friday, May 7, 2010

That's Not A Good Idea

I posted this cartoon on Face Book last year and received several positive comments, one of which suggested I do more cartoons about music and musicians.  My ego inflated to Hindenburg proportions and I thought, "What a good idea!"  So I sat down and immediately began furiously sketching a series of drawings about making music.

Sometimes when I'm sorting through how to present something, I'll write a small story about what's going on and choose some point in the plot that demonstrates the joke.  Since I draw a single panel, the reader must be able to determine what has just happened (or just been said) and what comes next.  This is the 'get it' factor to the joke.

I'll spare you the ones that were completely unworkable - that would just belabor the point.  The closest concept I came up with was based on my original cartoon with the father and the son practicing together, rehearsing a climactic moment in their rock show...

The impact (pardon the pun) was completely lost without the introduction which set up the gag.
So what's my point?  Creators typically show the public only the ideas that work, whether it's a song, painting, poem, etc.  We have a LOT of bad ideas!  I personally have far more bad than good.  I just don't want anyone to know.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Vanishing Door On The Road To Nowhere

I've always had a thing for cars ever since I pushed my first one down the street.  It was a 1964 Chevy Impala station wagon and what a monster!  Purchased from a retiring house painter, it reeked of paint, solvents, etc., so I named it 'Old Mister Boston' after a cheap brand of gin.  Financial circumstance dictated using it as a mobile home for a short period of time - thank God the seats were bigger than a sofa.  I recalled the experience fondly in this cartoon (shameless self-promotion).
Enjoy the video!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Picture From a Formal Life

In a former lifetime, I was a bartender and worked with an old friend named Joe McKivergin - or 'Big Joe' as he was known around town.  Joe and I ran several bars together and became close friends.  As time and geography went by we've drifted apart.

The two of us collaberated on a cookbook together in 1985, but alas it was never finished.  The premise for the book was a cookbook for bachelors, complete with barbeques, girl watching, beer drinking and celebrating summer.  Joe was working on the recipes (he's an excellent chef).  I was working on the illustrations and our friend Mark Direnzo was the editor.  We had a lot of fun, drank a LOT of beer and had a lot of laughs.

I was recently informed that Joe is in poor health.  A mutual friend contacted me on Face Book, having heard about the pictures I'd drawn for the book from Joe's sister.  Most of them are hanging in my mother's kitchen or have disappeared over time.  I found this illustration in my closet and decided to post it in honor of Big Joe.  This picture was the title page for the chapter about cooking fish.

I drew this in 1985 long before I'd ever used a computer.  It's done with prisma color pencils.  Pardon the scan quality, the artwork is in a permanent mat, and couldn't be flush against the glass on the scanner.
Take care, Joe.  I hope you remember this as fondly as I do.

Tunes For Tuesday

The Editors is a UK band I discovered last year while taking guitar lessons.  I especially liked this tune and I hope you enjoy it also.  Here's a link to the Wikedepia page about the band if you'd like to know more about them.

Pardon the ten second commercial at the start.  Enjoy!